Group Expresses Fear over Consequences of Pollution in Niger Delta

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

A Civil Society Organisation, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has expressed fear of deadly consequences on the people of the Niger Delta over the level of pollution in the region.

The Director of HOMEF, Mr. Nnimmo Bassey, who expressed sadness that after about six decades of exploitation and exploration of oil and gas in the area, resulting to serious degradation of the environment, the people are abandoned to their fate.

Bassey spoke yesterday, during an interview at a-one-day workshop on “Poetry as a Tool for Advocacy,” which was organised by the group for young people in Port Harcourt. 

He noted that because of the degraded environment, life expectancy in Niger Delta has reduced to 41 years, called for urgent attention on the remediation and restoration of the region environment.

He said: “Life expectancy in Niger Delta is one of the lowest in the world. Nigeria has one of the lowest among the nations, 56 for men, 54 years for women. Niger Delta having 41 years as life expectancy limit is not surprising, but surprise that anybody can live beyond that because the environment is absolutely polluted, people are born in pollution, live, die and buried in pollution.

“The gas flare, oil spill we live with causes cancer, all kinds of breathing difficulties, and skin diseases. People are drinking polluted water because they have no alternative and so is really a miracle that people are alive at all. If nothing is done urgently, it could drive the people to extinction.” 

Speaking on the poetry programme, the HOMEF’s director explained that “this is just to encourage young people to continue in the tradition and to be much more attentive to what is going on around them and to articulate and write them down for posterity.

“We know our people are very creative. If you look at poetry in Nigeria, you found out most of the ecologically environmentally sensitive poets in this country are mostly from the Niger Delta and that is because our environment has been devastated.

“So, having young people pay attention to the environment, to learn and to share, to help propagate their ideas that poetry can be used for social change, it definitely going to be useful. One of the young people who took part said he is going to be using it for his activism.”

One of the participants at the workshop and a student of University of Port Harcourt, Oluwasola Ikuomola, said the training is a wakeup call for her to use her social media handle to send her message across Nigeria and other countries through poem.

According to Ikumola, “I never knew I can write to pass a message of what is happening within my environment using poetry until I attended training.”

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